Report of Hermann and Lena Roqalsky's trip to Russia in 1900

After putting everything in order at home, my wife and I bade farewell to our children and many loved ones on April 19. After receiving many good wishes we went to Inman because we wanted to depart from there. More friends met us at the train station. They wished us well and God's blessing for the trip. We went to Canton where my wife's parents met us because there we wanted to make some visitations. From there we traveled to Marion to our in-law who has a farm there. Monday, the 23rd of April was the day we had designated to leave from Marion, there we met our traveling companions, namely Heinrich Lohrenzes and Brother John Harder. We left towards noon on the Rock Island Railroad, arriving at Kansas City about 6:30. The train stopped forty minutes so everyone had the opportunity to eat supper.

We traveled on, with few stops, to Chicago where we had to change trains. We had approximately ten minutes to do this. We traveled forth over mountains and through mountains toward New York. We arrived safely at Hoboken where we searched for our quarters on 26 State Street. It was 4 o'clock. The next morning after breakfast and attending devotions, led by Pastor Berkemeier, we went to the main office because Bro Lohrenz and also Bro. Harder wanted to change their travel routes. They were destined from New York to Paris but the brethren changed their mind about going to Paris and changed the route to Berlin. Next we went to the Russian council to have our passports certified. Harder and Lohrenz had their Russian emigration papers with them and had them signed. I had only the American pass, therefore got only unfriendly words; but got the pass signed in Berlin without difficulty. The remaining time we used to sight see, also saw the zoological garden.

On the 28th we embarked on the ship Statendam (Holland American Line). It is a large nice ship. About 10 o'clock the signal was given to lift anchor. In a short time the ship moved out of the harbor. We had, praise God, pretty good weather the first five days, only a little raw, cold wind. However then we got a strong north wind lasting two days and three nights so that many became uncomfortable and got seasick; especially during the time when the water rolled over the deck of the ship and we were forced to stay below deck. The 7th of May we arrived at Plymouth, England. Here mail was unloaded -- 1200 sacks we were told.

Plymouth has a well protected harbor from the sea, so it would be almost impossible for an enemy warship to enter the harbor to come near the city.

The next morning at 6 o'clock we arrived at Bologne, France. Here we parted with our travel companions. We embarked with many other passengers on a small steamboat and went to the landing harbor while the large ship soon left for Rotterdam. We were happy and thankful to arrive on land after a ten day sea journey. After passing through customs we went to town and first of all satisfied our stomachs. The food on the ship had not completely satisfied our stomachs.

At 9:30 we boarded the train for Paris. The trip took seven hours, but the time wasn't long for it seemed to us as if we were in a completely new world. The scenery changed as we passed through villages, flower gardens, fields of grain, and also through many long tunnels. When we were about twenty miles from Paris people pointed out a palace that was one of Rothschild's palaces. As much as we could see it was a very beautiful architecture surrounded by magnificent gardens. Also the Eiffel Tower was visible from a distance. We arrived at the train station in Paris and after we had stepped out of the train we stood there as rain soaked chickens (fowl), and didn't know where to go. We asked several people, but they just shrugged their shoulders. It didn't make any difference whether we spoke German or English.

As we were leaving the train station a Jew came toward us; he was looking for quests for his guest house so we went with him and found lodging. Received a good room for $1.25 per day or twenty-four hours, but it was on the 6th story; lower story rooms were very costly. We could get a good meal for $.75, breakfast somewhat less. But that wasn't all: we had to pay for the light, hand towel, the man who cleans the room, as well as the waiter. Finally when one leaves the hotel a servant stands at each door and holds out his hand for a tip. So it is also in Germany and somewhat like this in Russia which is very strange to us in America.

We stayed in Paris four days. We spent three days sightseeing, seeing many interesting things. One day we spent in Warsaga where we went from Paris by rail. The trip took one hour. Then we toured old palaces where we were told former kaisers lived. The whole arrangement in the palaces still stands as it had been in use 200 years. Also we were shown the wagons that Napoleon should have used. They were decorated with gold. The park around the palace could be called a paradise. Often we had thoughts: "What has happened to these great people?" Later we returned to Paris and went to a house where one of the Napoleons was buried. We were not able to see the grave because admittance was only on certain days.

The 12th of May we boarded the night train, left Paris and traveled to Berlin. Arrived there on the 14th at 7 A M. The first day was spent taking care of business. We immediately purchased a return ticket for the ship, "Groszer Kurfurst" from Nordd LLoyd. The ship was to leave from Bremen July 14; but was delayed until the 17th because in Hoboken the ship which was to leave on the 17th burned. The next day we left from Berlin and arrived safely on the 18th of May in the evening, at the destination of our trip, namely at the home of our parents. They received the letter from us the same day. We had sent the letter from Paris. They figured they would have to meet us the 18th or 19th. The meeting after fifteen years of separation was a touching experience; no one of us could speak. We first had to shed tears of joy, we began visiting; many questions were asked and experiences shared. Suddenly it was 2:30 and we retired for the night. The first fourteen days we stayed with our parents and family. Sunday, the 27th of May (old calendar) we went to Memrick, I believe the village is named Kotlareigka, to a baptism. There nine young souls were baptized by Bro. Isaac Fast. Here we also met with H. Lohrenzes. For faspa (supper) we went to Abraham Neustader, who is business manager for John Friesen's mill. Bro. Neustader was my former school comrade, also his wife was my school mate. Her maiden name is Maria Schellenberg.

We desired to go to the conference at Wischilofka which was to take place June 1-2, so we left on the 31st of May with our parents traveling to Besobotoska which is about 65 "werst" (Russian mile, approximately 1 kilometer) from here. Arrived at August Hochboms and stayed there overnight. They are dear people and were gracious hosts. In this village there are mostly Baptist brethren. The next day Bro. Friesen, Hochbom's son-in-law, went to the conference with us. Our parents remained there to make visitations. After the session had opened we delivered the greeting Bro. Abraham Schellenberg had sent along with us and the H. Lohrenzes. We were acknowledged by the delegation and they welcomed us to the gathering allowing us to attend the two days of conference. We were able to see that the congregation there has a strong mission emphasis (program). Because there were a number of brethren appointed to work in the Lord's vineyard; but to open a mission station in India toqether with the American congregation -- there was not much interest for this in Russia.

Sunday the 3rd was missions fest. Many visitors were in attendance. It was a day of blessing. The people demonstrated great willingness to offer support for missions. The three days that we were there we learned to know many dear people. Among them the Jacob Klassens where we had our lodging. Later we stayed at Peter Hieberts for night, also visited the Jacob Wiebes with whom we were well acquainted in the past.

The last night we were at Johann Giesbrechts. Monday, they went with us to Boprwenka to Gerh. Froze. There he, together with Aaron Lepp own a steam driven mill. From there we went by rail to Weisenfeld. Bro. Frose went with us to to Sinelofka. There we waited for three hours. The time soon passed and we had to part. Bro. Frose returned on the next train and we went further in good fellowship with Christian Schmidts and Jacob Sawatzky from Wiesenfeld. Duiring the trip Bro. Schmidt shared many things with us. Time passed quickly.

When we arrived at Saizewo, Bro. Sawatzky's transportation was there to get us, so we went along to Weisenfeld and the Schmidts remained in Alexanderheim. At Wiesenfeld by Abraham Frosen we felt much at home because when he still lived at Andreasfeld he and his father owned a treadmill together where I had learned to operate a mill.

From there Bro. Peter Nikkel took us to Alexanderheim and stayed there until the next morning, then by rail we went further to Molotschna. When we came to Brischip station our father met us there. He had traveled on the same train but we had not met each other but we had arranged that we would meet on Friday at this station. Then together we went to Tokmak where he (our father) has a son-in-law who is the operator of a factory. I had never met this in-law, so was happy to get acquainted. There we also visited S. Schlichting in Halbstadt. We also went to Muntau because there we were to deliver some photographs and greetings. The next day Bro. Schlichting took us to Tigenhagen to visit the Boeses, but did not find them at home so we went further till Schonau, delivered the photographs and greetings. After we were ready to leave Halbstadt Bro. Schlichting took us back to Tokmak.

The second day of Penticost we all together went to Ruckenau for a gathering. Since: the road was so poor we arrived somewhat late. The prayer time had already ended and Bro. Johann Harder from America brought a blessed message. Following him Bro. B. Friesen from Sewastopel, where he at this time has a Baptist congregation, brought a message. For dinner (noon meal) we went with Bro. D. Schellenberg. In the afternoon the Lord's Supper was observed. The time passed quickly because at 3 o'clock we had to leave, our chauffeur did not want to wait any longer. So soon we had to part again.

So it went, changing back and forth first friendly, happy meetings then painful partings. Then we went back home to our parents to spend the last several weeks at home with them. Father had already left sooner. We went to Andreasfeld where we spent almost two days. Had some blessed hours.

The 21st of June we returned to our parents' home. They also had been away from home three weeks. The 5th of July we had designated as the day we would leave, so we still had fourteen days but how quickly these days passed. We were also very homesick for our children in America. Still we would have liked to stay longer with our parents. The time passed quickly and the parting hour came. In the morning before we left there were certain other friends who came to bid us farewell. After a song had been sung and a Psalm read we had a time of prayer and there were many earnest prayers that went up for us. Finally the last minute came and we had to part. The parting was painful. Praise God there will be another meeting where we will never have to part again.

My brother took us to the rail (station). The day before we had already decided that our dear mother would not come along to the rail (station) because we all were concerned that it would be very difficult for her to experience the second parting.

The 8th we came to Alexandrowo but when I shoved my pass I was told I could not cross the border. The offical at Warsachau had not marked something on the pass correctly; therefore we were not allowed to leave. There was no other choice but to go back to Warsachau to report and have our papers corrected. This caused much headache and expense. We were very happy that we were finally allowed to go on. The 10th at 10 o'clock in the evening we arrived in Berlin. Right away in the morning I found out that our ship was to leave three days later.

Whether good or evil we had to adjust and so we had enough time to see some more historical sights. Also had the opportunity to visit Kaiser Wilhelm's palace and see it from the inside, but before we could enter we had to put slippers over our shoes, which were available for that purpose. We were shown the chapel in the palace which the Kaiser at set times, with his officials, attended a worship service. We also went up the tower. There were 268 steps to climb. On top we could walk around and observe a large area of the city.

The zoological garden was worthy of a visit; there were many different animals there.

Finally the waiting came to an end and we traveled to Bremen and boarded for the sea trip towards our home on the 17th. The weather was good so that we suffered very little from sea sickness. After ten days we landed safely in New York. A we came to the immigration house we met some people from Kansas who were on their way to Russia. There were Abraham Harms, Wilhelm Prieb, and Bro. Liedke. Hurriedly we shared experiences of our trip and they told of their travel from Kansas to New York. Then we had supper together and they boarded the ship and we went to the rail station. We were anxious to begin our trip home.

On our way we stopped at Niagara Falls and spent six hours there. It was very interesting to see how the water came over the falls

Finally on the 30th of July we arrived safely at Inman at 6:30 where John Walls and our children were waiting.

Praise God all were in good health. We have to say to the glory of God the Lord has been with us in all our traveling and afforded us many blessings in Russia.

With this I want to close and thank all dear people sincerely with whom we have had contact; for their good hospitality and love demonstrated to us. Warm greetings.

Your fellow pilgrims to Zion.
Hermann and Lena Rogalsky

Zionsbote 22 August 1900
Located by Peggy Goertzen
Translated by Rufus Lohrenz
December 23, 1995

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